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20 June 2014


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I should say something about the origins of Shiism. As a non-Muslim I have no axe to grind between the Shia and the Sunni. From my point of view they are all in error and are suitable subjects for objective study. The "emic" story on how Shiism began holds that the formerly Zoroastrian Persian speaking population of southern Iraq spontaneously rose up under Muslim Arab (Sunni) occupation to embrace the succession rights of the family of the Prophet to be the head of the Umma. Most non-Muslim scholarship considers this to be a fable useful to the world view of the Shia but essentially unrepresentative of what really happened. The "etic" view is that the Arab occupiers treated Mesopotamia and its inhabitants as booty to be distributed among the conquering Arabs. The Arabs drew up a list (diwan) apportioning income from the conquered lands among themselves in shares proportionate to the date of their adherence to Islam. The locals were excluded from this list even if they converted to Islam (mawali). Over several decades resentment over this grew steadily among the converts until it expressed itself in a rejection of the religio/political authority of the Ummayad Caliph in Damascus and adherence to the rights of the prophet's family. The diwan was rejected along with the authority of Mu'awiya the Ummayad caliph. pl

Lord Curzon


What then did Hussain hope to accomplish by sacrificing himself and his family? The Shi'a would say he was driven to expose the corruption of Islam by Yazid and his father as the head of the Al-ul-Bayt, but taking what you wrote above, he seemed hell-bent on a death wish for little gain.


Lord Curzon

He had allies among the Muslim Arab occupiers. They were not all for Mu'awiya and he expected a lot of help from the mawali. He did not get it and it is for this that the Shia punish themselves so on Ashura, the anniversary of the battle. pl


Thank you for the great briefing. Education is so way important.

al Lah literally means "The LORD" or "THE God", it is a job title and not a name. It's a mistake to think one can put God in a box with a name, or even a picture, which is why Muslims are so down on pictures of the Diety. Even the Arabic Christian Bible translates The LORD God as "Allah". It is important to get this conceptual error in translation understood. "Allah" is not the name of some different, incorrect god. It's simply Arabic.

Xenophobes teach that it is "our God" vs. "their God", whereas all monotheistic religions start by agreeing that there can only be One God; so we MUST all be talking about the same thing. There are many paths up the mountain. Shooting someone because you believe they believe something else, they don't have the right idea of God-- is...an error profound.

Sadly, it seems that most of what we have been taught about God is inaccurate, which is why there seem to be so many practicing agnostics and atheists in government. [see, "God is on the side with the biggest artillery", generally true.] But this throws the baby out with the bathwater, as the basics--don't murder, don't steal, don't bear false witness, don't covet your neighbor's turf--were put there for very good reasons. By an underlying force. Which seems to be being ignored.

Devout Christians pray "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us". You think this isn't real, that it only applies to Sunday mornings? What goes around, comes around. We are so screwed...



"Allah" is an Arabic contraction of "al ilahat" which means as you say "The God." The pre-Islamic Arabs practiced a form of astral religion that had many gods. pl

Douglass Schumacher

Pat, thank you. One in a long line of great resources you have provided.



Only the takfiri jihadis are our enemy and they are the enemies of most Muslims as well."

Perhaps a large, glowing hand could write these prophetic words in flaming letters 20' tall on the walls of Congress and the Joint Forces Staff College?

Prof. Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley taught the opposite at the latter:

would like to add that hiring/arming takfiri jihadis and neo-Nazi skinheads because they make such wonderful terrorists is most unhelpful to the actual interests of the United States. "Don't do stupid sh*t."[BHO]


What more can you tell us about the Naqshbandis who are allied with ISIL? How big are they and how long have they been organized as a fighting force? I'm aware that they are the only Sufi order in the Sunni side of the schism (though they all deny being part of the schism). But would the Saudi and Gulfi Wahabis fund Sufis even if they were Sunni?

Are the ISIL types inclined to tolerate their rituals?

There is a lineage of Naqshbandis in the States I've encountered who would deny anything do with politics but after a while of listening it comes out that they have a soft spot for the Ottoman Empire.





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